Photo by: Tony Leon/ActionWestPhotography.com
Article by: Abby Salmon (Sports Information Intern)
LA VERNE, Calif. - Looking to pick up some more preseason wins during their third and final tournament of the season, the Whittier College Volleyball team faced off against No. 24 Pacific Lutheran University in their first match of the La Verne Invitational.
Pacific Lutheran (L, 25-14, 19-25, 19-25, 25-21, 10-15)
The Purple & Gold maintained control all throughout the first set. An early four point serving run from Kathea Schamblin (Bakersfield, Calif.) helped create separation between the Poets and the Lutes. Makayla Wright (Covina, Calif.) also helped lead the charge totaling six assists as the score reached 12-7 with Whittier ahead. For the rest of the set, the Lutes couldn't get within three points of Whittier and the first set ended 25-14 with a combo block from Katelyn Popoff (Hacienda Heights, Calif.) and Abby Salmon (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.).
It was PLU that pulled ahead in the second set as Ava Nelson put together a six point run that made the score 13-7. After that, Pacific Lutheran held their lead for the remainder of the frame as they closed it out 25-19 leveling the match.
The start of the third set was a group effort by the Purple & Gold as Wright, Schamblin, Alaina Rhee (Kent, WA), and Franki Piloto (Ontario, Calif.) each earned a kill within the first seven points of the game. But, in the middle of the stanza, it was Ava Nelson again who put on a serving clinic with nine unanswered that gave the Lutes another comfortable lead. Valerie Van der Linden (Auburn, Calif.) tried to close the gap serving three points in a row, two of which were aces. In the end, it was Pacific Lutheran that closed out the set 25-19 with a kill from Lauren Wilson.
The Lutes came right out of the gate in set four as they started it off with an 8-1 lead. Whittier was then able to close the gap with a four point serving run from Popoff followed by a quick sideout and three straight from Van der Linden. Piloto also contributed to the comeback with three kills in the middle of the set. With the score at 17-18 and PLU ahead, sophomore Madisen Diaz (Hacienda Heights, Calif.) subbed in to serve and picked up the next four points, pulling Whittier ahead 21-18, a lead they would hold as Popoff would answer with a kill that closed it out 25-21.
Throughout the deciding fifth set, Pacific Lutheran kept a consistent lead. The Purple & Gold didn't go down without a fight though as Piloto picked up three kills and Rhee with two of her own. In the end, it was PLU that was able to pull out the 15-10 victory.
Piloto finished the match with 14 kills. Popoff added a double double with 12 kills and 10 digs. These two also combined for five block assists. Rhee was big inside with eight kills on 20 attempts, hitting .300 along with five block assists and Schamblin registered a six kill, 11 dig effort.
Katie Engle (Whittier, Calif.) in the backrow was tough totaling 27 digs and Wright supported her with 14 digs and 25 assists.
Whittier returns to the University of La Verne today, September 14 for Day 2 of the La Verne Invitational. They will face UC Santa Cruz (11:00am) for the second time in less than a week and the University of Puget Sound (4:00pm).